My mother has always teased that my brother Daniel is an emotional thermometer.? He will walk into a room and take the emotional temperature of everyone it.? Unlike Ty, Daniel pays close attention to the emotions at play in a room.
Picking up on non verbal social clues is a very important life skill.? Children with social spectrum issues lack the ability to do that and it can put them at a serious disadvantage when trying to socialize with others because they can?t ?read? what another person wants or needs.
Ty has learned what a mad face looks like or a sad face but I don?t think he really gets it on an intrinsic level ? it is more of an intellectual knowledge.? I know this because he doesn?t respond accordingly.
If I am having a hard day and am crying on the couch, Tori will be all over it.? She will be patting me, asking me why I am crying, trying to cuddle me, watching me like a hawk.? She associates tears to grief and responds accordingly.? This comes natural to her.?? Tanner is not as verbose as Tori but he will demonstrate that he too has acknowledged my sadness and will be gentle of spirit with me.
Ty will approach me, study my face in bewilderment and then say ?Mommy can I have a snack??.? It doesn?t register.? In fact, he appears confused by it.
He is often confused by my anger as well.? I can have steam pouring out my ears and Ty will look at me wide eyed in confusion.? Sometimes he will smile.? Sometimes he will have a ?deer in the headlight? expression because he is trying to process and he isn?t making sense of it.? Sometimes he seems oblivious entirely (which tends to escalate me because folks it is very frustrating to be mad about something and have another person not recognize it).
Of all the things I would take back as a parent, it would be my many attempts at trying to make sure Ty understood my emotions when I was failing to recognize that I was asking something of him that he could NOT give to me.? I wish I could tell you that I never do that anymore but sometimes, my human flesh rises above what I know and I act out in utter frustration.? Coming to understand this over the course of time as a spectrum issue has helped me to cope with it and respond in a more loving way.? Jim and I are still learning all this and some days we are less successful at patience and tolerance than others.
Along the same lines, one can?t expect Ty to look genuinely ?ashamed? or ?sorry? for an action.? It VERY rarely happens.? Once in awhile I will see a look on his face that resembles shame but I think there is a better explanation even for that.? Example:? Ty has been told he can?t take a cookie off the counter.? He takes one.? He then looks at me wide eyed which I like to consider as a look of shame ? as in ? he recognizes what he did was wrong and is concerned about the consequences.
Rightly evaluated though, I don?t think he is feeling ?sorry?.? I think he is impulsive and sometimes when he acts on impulse he does recognize as soon as he did it that he wasn?t supposed to and you see a ?wooops? on his face.? This isn?t really an emotional reaction though.? It is an acknowledgment that he just broke a rule and he may get in trouble for it.
Jim and I had a comical discussion the night after Jim and I had our big talk about Asperger?s where we were debating back and forth the merit of an evaluation.?? In the midst of that talk, I became quite emotional.? I am a pretty left brained person but when I am with my SERIOUSLY left brained husband I tend to pull right.?? Jim?s pragmatic approach to everything that is so void of emotion leaves me making the emotional argument if for balance if nothing else.? ?When I went to bed that night I was still crying and Jim made no move to comfort me.? As I laid in bed, the light bulb went off in my head.? After nearly seventeen years of marriage I finally had a break through of mercy for my sweet spouse.? I recognized at long last that Jim could NOT give me what I needed.? He lacked the ability to do so.? For the greater part of my marriage I have complained to him about isolation in my grief because I could come up with no explanation as to why he could not offer the comfort/empathy that I needed at times.? I think many males (due to common left brained tendencies) struggle with this but Jim particularly so.? Jim is not an emotional person and he struggles to empathize because of it.? In fact, this is a good time to point out that many of Ty?s attributes are common to many people to varying degrees. ?The thing that qualifies Ty for a disorder though is both the sheer number of disorders and the magnitude of them (in consideration to the degree that they limit him) because both are so outside of the norm.?? As I laid there considering what I know of my son and what I know of my husband, I recognized that Jim could not reach out to me emotionally or physically because he honestly could not see/feel/understand what I needed from him.? I also acknowledged that if I stood in the gap for Jim, just like I do for my child, I could walk over the love bridge and reach out my arms to him and he WOULD fold me in (and he did).? I had to actually tell him and demonstrate what I needed.? ?This is where my dad would now say ?Doni I have been telling you this for years?.? The difference is, my father and all my brothers have more of a left/right mix and I can speak the language of emotion to them so therefore it has always been harder for me to see this as a ?can?t? as opposed to ?won?t?.
So the next evening, Jim and I were reviewing things from a place with more perspective and Jim says to me ?You know I laid awake last night wondering if your grand plan was to get ME into a psychologist for an Asperger?s diagnosis!??? LOL!!!!!?? I told him that I was very tempted.? Jim admitted that he feels he has a good 50% of Ty?s symptoms when it comes to social issues.? All that know Jim well would probably agree with that statement – hee hee.
I hope that as you have been following this mini book on life with Ty that it will serve to educate you on how to love people beyond the scope of Ty.? Like I said, Ty?s issues (in and of themselves) are surprisingly common.? They are only uncommon to the degree of their extremities.? A lot can be learned though by recognizing what another person is equipped to give and what they are not and learning to live lovingly and with tolerance for those things.
I am actually not finished with this section but I will divide it up into another portion because this topic is getting lengthy.
How You Can Help?
I would not suggest you go to Ty seeking empathy (or Jim either).?? Don?t expect Ty to be able to read the emotions on your face.? Put words to your thoughts so that he can hear you.